By: Vincent Medina and Azzan Shy
Infrastructure and accessibility problems continue to plague the University Student Union, as the Future U Project continues development and plans to address the issues.
The faulty escalators, elevators and leaking ceiling are visible issues in the USU. However, additional infrastructure issues continue in the 51-year-old building.
The student union building was constructed in 1972, and the Long Beach State campus facilities team has maintained the building with “temporary infrastructural upgrades,” according to the Future U Project website.
While the strategy is not a long-term solution to the problem, the university is planning a full refurbishment to address the infrastructure issues with the Future U Project. However, the project will come at a fee increase to students of approximately $240 to $270 once the project is finished, which is anticipated to be in 2028.
Arnecia Bryant, director of Facilities and Sustainability, explained there are five issues the remodel will need to solve including “water leaks, plumbing concerns, electrical concerns, mechanical/HVAC concerns and other facility concerns.”
Leaks through the USU concrete slabs were prevalent for decades and caused irreparable damage to the structural rebar, eventually resulting in the structural failure of the USU structural slabs.
Isaac Julian, the Associated Students, Inc., president, explained the ceiling leaks are prevalent in the ASI senate chambers.
“We’ve had to move our meetings to the USU Maxon Plaza, just because our Senate chambers had water leaks in there,” Julian said. “Our south and east walls have moisture seeping in through the brick concrete.”
The plumbing system continues to create issues as water intrusion and continuous broken pipes from the original plumbing system from the 1970s have yet to be replaced. Most of the pipe system needs to be replaced, but they are embedded in the infrastructure, according to the USU facilities department.
The USU Beach must also meet American Disability Act requirements. The Beach Auditorium is not accessible to physically disabled people and the elevators are in constant need of repair due to a low supply of elevator parts.
USU facilities department elaborated the ventilation and the control zones need to be re-engineered. Reasoning and reconfiguring items and locations over the past 20 years have led to the airflow being inconsistent with the thermostat.
The PA system is not operational and can’t be used for emergency announcements or instructions.
There have been “massive outages” for the ballroom and meeting room lighting control systems. Connectivity issues lead to bypassing some lighting controls to allow other rooms to work correctly.
The transformers in the building are over 50 years old and are subject to failure. This leads to outlets needing help to function for students.
The locking system in many doors needs upgrading because they fail to lock. However, many of the parts required for this upgrade are unavailable. Some sort of lockdown control will be necessary for an active shooter situation. In addition to this, the fire damper system in the building does not function to capacity.
Most of the issues listed are becoming more prevalent and more difficult to maintain or present safety concerns for students and staff.
According to the ASI Communications Director Shannon Couey, “many of our infrastructure systems have outlived their life expectancy and the building is in need of some serious repairs. A total renovation of the building is really the only viable option at this point.”